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Rugby Tour Review: “Tours Build Teams”

‘Tours build teams on and off the field’ and the article below from Ipswich YM RUFC who recently had tour with us explains exactly how…

‘I feel very privileged to be part of Ipswich YM RUFC.  We have a very special set of players in every age group across mini, junior and senior set ups.  I know this to be true as through my roles across the divides I get to poke my nose into most of them.  Our tour over Easter 2015 to Worksop gave all who went much to be proud of, but also it gave me lots of things to ponder about how we can make this great club even better and hopefully really begin to tie all the sections together.

I decided back in September that I wanted to take our U10’s boys away on tour as a group if I could raise enough interest, get the location right, find the right fixtures and get the right price.  The normal fayre being offered through Leicester Tigers wasn’t going to work as I felt it was too far to travel and there wouldn’t be enough focus on the boys from the tour organisers so set out to find something different.

I finally went with Xplore partly because I liked the fact that I could meet with them regularly face to face, partly because I liked the sales rep who I had met at Bury St Edmunds RUFC Festival the year before but more so because they agreed to allow me to work with them to build the programme for the boys whilst we were away.

We stayed at Worksop College, which is a Day and Boarding Public School set up for Sport and has produced England Cricket, Hockey and Athletics stars as well as Aviva Premiership Rugby players.  The facilities are outstanding and the setting was perfect for our weekend.  The food was excellent and there was great choice including vegetarian options at every mealtime.  There was also a bar and tuck shop on site.

Xplore take the boys off your hands when you’re not playing rugby to do activities and even patrol the corridors after 10pm lights out.  That said our parents were fantastic coming to all the activities en masse and we also ate together as a family.

Friday afternoon the boys activities were crate climbing where they had to work in teams to build structures and get one another from one side to the other and up and down obstacles and after that they did archery.  In the evening they had indoor relay games against Stowmarket RUFC and Diss RUFC.  It was on this evening that the song “YM Sexy Beasts” was born.  If you ask the boys for a rendition I’m sure they will sing it to you.

We played Stowmarket RUFC on the Saturday morning along with Sheffield in a three way tournament and were warmly greeted by Sheffield and warmed up on a very wet and miserable morning in Sheffield.  That said, team spirit was excellent and the boys were fully focused on the challenge ahead.  The game against Stowmarket was full on no quarter given rugby.  As coaches we were very proud of our boys.  We ran out comfortable winners and that team also beat the other Stowmarket team by a cricket score.  The development side lost three games, two fairly narrowly to Stowmarket and one heavily to Sheffield.  The A game final against Sheffield we lost 3-1 but it was a game we could and should have won.  Some silly mistakes and missed opportunities cost us but at this age it is all about learning and understanding our roles whilst having as much fun as possible so no problem there at all.  We were very happy with our mornings work and had a great set of photos with Sheffield who we presented with medals.  Thanks to Any Moore and the club for the medals, which we presented to Sheffield, St Neots and The Dukes (Dutch Touring Team).  They went down a treat.

Saturday afternoon our tour theme of ‘Pirates’ kicked in and all the parents and boys dressed up and we had our own pirate court where all the coaches were tried for crimes against fashion among other things and unsurprisingly found guilty by the boys.  The punishment was eggs cracked on our heads much to the boys amusement.  From there the boys had swimming with inflatable obstacles and some diving.

The parents then put on an Easter egg hunt around the college and every boy ended up with a big egg and a bag full of sweets.

In the evening it was campfire and marshmallows and credit again to our parents, they all came out and we all got around the fire and sang lots of songs.  There was a competition and each club set of boys had to make up a song, which our boys won with “YM Sexy Beasts”.

On the Sunday we left after breakfast and headed to St Neots.  Xplore sent us on our way with a packed lunch each and we were met with glorious sunshine and by some very nice St Neots people.  We had agreed to mix this up ability wise as the Dutch side we were due to play, play U9 and U10 together.  There were two pools and one of our sides went unbeaten winning all four of their pool games on the way to the final where they eventually lost to Stowmarket A who hadn’t mixed up their teams.  Some of the rugby we played on the way to the final was outstanding and for the four development boys in that team of eight it was the first time they’d ever made a final.  I can’t speak highly enough of them.

Our other side came second in their pool and the team picked up an injury in the second game, which meant that they played their final two games with seven players.  They did the club and themselves proud by sticking to their tasks and grinding out a draw in one of the two remaining games.  Lee Elliston said to me on the Thursday night before we went away on tour that tours build teams.  He’s right of course but whilst we had a better than average group of parents before we went on tour, like our boys they are now also very much a team.

Even though we lost in the final to Stowmarket it felt like we’d won.  The weekend was a resounding success and I think parents and boys alike were all sad that it had to come to an end.  Both St Neots and The Dukes were very pleased with their medals.

So we had a truly great weekend.  Our boys and their non-playing siblings were commended wherever they went for their behaviour, manners and the way they play the game.  The experience of all staying together in dorms has brought the playing group closer together.  They look out for one another, they back each other up when it gets physical, they greet each other like family (the first Tuesday at training after tour was really good to see this) and they are all so proud to wear our club shirt and represent our great club.

Moving forward I would like tour to become part of the mini and ideally the junior section calendar.  I have spoken to Xplore and they are happy to help us organise this.  The opportunities for us as a club to galvanise parents into getting more involved in club life through feeling more part of the fabric are very achievable through using the tour as a vehicle and us going away as a club.  As an example I have asked my parents for volunteers to form a tour committee and have six volunteers as of this point in time.   Ideally we will go away as a mini section at the very least and this will enable cross pollination of age group relationships and if we can get the wider club involved we can I hope see the beginnings of the a truly great family club with the mini and junior section supporting the senior section on a Saturday and vice versa on a Sunday and thus tours build clubs.

Xplore are great people.  We have now booked to go away again with them next year and have other age groups coming with us this time.  Roll on next season, roll on tour.”

Through our LOtC accreditation, we also are awarded the Adventuremark Quality badge for demonstrating continued high levels of risk management.

Accredited the Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge for UK activity provision through the AAIAC.

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